We knew that it was coming, that my Nan’s life was coming to an end; those that read this blog often will remember my entry about visiting her in hospital a few weeks ago.
Anyway, earlier this week my father pre-warned me that he felt things were coming to a head, progressing rather suddenly and more quickly than we had thought, towards the end.
All efforts were made to offer her comfort and calm in her last days. I am supremely confident of that, and incredibly thankful, both for my parents’ fortitude in bringing their professional experience to bear in this distressing time and for the efforts of the local palliative care home team.
And so it was that my last remaining grandparent, my father’s mother, passed away quietly at home late on Friday night, the tenth of July 2009.
She had lived a long and full life, and I will always cherish the fond memories that I have of spending my early childhood in her care. Her stories about the Manchester Blitz; falling from her bicycle when she rode into an unseen house brick during the blackout, or putting mattresses between the beds of her epileptic patients during air raids as they could not be moved to the cellars with the others… These and a hundred more will always be a part of my oral record, although I may perhaps commit them to ‘paper’ at some point.
She was fiercely proud of her family, supportive and understanding to a fault of my choices despite their often being fraught with risk and/or non-conformity, and I am sure that my brother would say the same. She was no pushover either, never shy to tell me that she liked me better with less weight on my bones, or berating me for my somewhat feckless inability to completely remove tobacco from my life.
I think that what I will remember most fondly is her capacity for tolerance and her sense of fairness. As a woman of her generation and background she could have been understood, perhaps even forgiven, if her outlook had been unable to accept the sweeping social changes that her lifetime saw, but I cannot remember a single time that she exhibited intolerance for anything or anyone in my presence, with perhaps the exception of rudeness and rude people.
Of course she was no saint, and there is often a sense of obligation to ignore the negative after someone dies and suddenly they are canonised and celebrated in the odd vacuum created by love, grief and nostalgia. I too am moved to gloss over her failings, if only in deference to how patient she was of mine – which are numerous enough – but also because while we are learning to live without her it is simpler to be fond in our remembrance. Besides, the ties that bind really do run deeper than anything else.
I am on my way up to Chorley to “circle the wagons”, and spend time with my parents and my brother and his partner. We spend so much of our lives apart at this point that it feels imperative to spend some time together while we are coming to terms with Nan’s passing.
I will be back in the southeast between Tuesday and the funeral – there are things that are under the heading of ‘life goes on’ that need my attention, and that is something that my Nan would have understood and approved of unless I miss my guess…
Dorothy Godby 02/02/1921 to 10/07/2009 – At peace; much loved and much missed.